tv Newsmakers CSPAN December 4, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EST
>> joining us on it newsmakers is gene sperling. thank you for being with us. gene sperling, let's begin with the numbers on friday. is this the start of a trend? >> obviously, you hope things will get better. what is the case is that we have seen solid job growth over the last several months. there has been 1.7 million private-sector jobs created this year. if this was a typical year, you might think this was not great, but a satisfactory pace. when you are coming back from such a the recession, the worst recession since the great depression, it is not nearly good enough. you have to have much more robust growth, much more robust job growth, to get the kind of
job creation that will start lowering the unemployment rate. it is important when you have so many americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer, long-term unemployed. over 4 million have been unemployed for over a year. if you do not get more robust job growth, it is hard to make a serious dent. it is a positive step to see us having solid job growth, to see the unemployment rate going down. it is not nearly as quick as the pace the would like. that is why we wake up every day trying to push for elements of the president's jobs at. most recently, the payroll tax cuts for both workers and small businesses that has been projected to create another 600 to a million jobs. it could not be more critical when you still have 13 million people out of work.
thatt's follow-up on point. >> you mentioned the payroll tax cut extension. you have argued the administration has argued that it essential to keep the kind of growth that will keep a job numbers moving in the right direction. this week, the idea of extending the payroll tax failed and the senate. you now have to pick up the pieces. how does that get paid for and can you get it done by the end of the year? >> if we do not get this done, this means that would this type of unemployment, we will be allowing the tax is to go up for -- $1,000 for the typical american family. that does not make any economic sense. it is not good for families who use that payroll tax cut to help them with the higher cost of
gas, food. one of the points i would make is that we have not given up on the broader tax cut. the president did not call just for extension. he called for expanding the payroll tax cut so that a typical family would have $1,500 more next year. 6 million small businesses, who employ 56 million people, could see their taxes cut in half as much as $150,000 per small business. that is the type of strong impact we need. the president also has fought for infrastructure and school construction. rebuilding our country, preventing teacher layoffs. all of these would be important. that is what really need. we should try to get the full payroll tax cut. it would make an immediate impact. it is something republicans and democrats have but supported.
i would hope that everyone does not think that 8.6% unemployment, while better, it is satisfactory or a reason to sit on our hands and not take strong action. >> how does it get paid for? the administration proposes to do that with a tax on millionaires. republicans have said no to that. they have various other ideas. in an environment in which there is not a lot of dialogue, how to figure out how to pay for this tax cut so that it can get done by the end of the year? >> we feel we have to get their and we have to do so in a way that is fair and meet our values. it is hard for me to know where the republicans are. they put up a series of cuts for their extension and only got 20 votes. not even one half of what the president's proposal received. most of the times that we have been year in office, republicans have insisted the tax cuts do
not have to be paid for a doll. -- for at all. we've gotten very mixed messages from them. i wish they would listen to people at home. as much as it is seen as much -- as more of the democratic proposal to ask those making over a million to pay a bit more, i think you know quite independents and most republicans would support that as well. of course, we're willing to work together, but it's got to be something bad is robust, a pro- job creation. >> you have been in this game for a very long time. at the time, the administration
was able to get a lot of things done with a republican congress. did gingrich was the speaker of the house. you got -- new king bridge was the speaker of the house. >> newt gingrich was the speaker of the house. >> i was in the white house in 1995. we have a shut down that was unfortunate. after that, we did come together and pass welfare reform and some health care measures. 1997, but we had a bipartisan balanced budget agreement. that is obviously what this president would like. that is why he spent the majority of this summer either calling for the joe biden group negotiations or negotiating personally with the speaker of the house to get that kind of bipartisanship. i do believe there are many people in congress who want to
work together in that way. you have to call it as it is. there is a block of republicans, who are just not willing to make a good-faith compromises that are needed to have that type of bipartisanship. the block efforts to get a grand bargain that could help bring the deficit down. right now, many of them are very much opposed to things like the payroll tax cuts that they have supported in the past. it is very strange why now, but we still have 8.6% unemployment, why would they oppose it because a democratic president is calling for it? it is very unfortunate that we have not had that type of bipartisanship. we're always going to be trying to get as much done as we can. we were able to pass the president's tax cuts for veterans who have been out of work. recently.
and we very much want to pass the payroll tax cuts. it has traditionally been -- it was bipartisan and was not something that was seen as a democrat or republican proposal. >> one of the people you worked with at the time was newt gingrich, a man who was back in the news. you see him today. when you hear what he says today and the kind of person that he was 15 years ago, has changed? -- has he changed? >> what i would say that in 1995, we were trying to work together. i think newt gingrich erred by not being able to compromise.
the public rallied behind president clinton because they supported what he was standing for in terms of not hurting medicaid and medicare. i think they were voting against people being too strident and not willing to compromise. after that, and a relatively short amount of time, there was bipartisanship. i am an optimist and i like to be hopeful. what makes me a bit hopeful is that what president obama did jury well this summer, he really did change the public debate. when he started, there were a lot of democrats that would not do anything on medicare entitlement. there were a lot of republicans, unfortunately, too many, who was taken a pledge where they cannot raise a penny of revenue, even to help their country. what happened over this year it is that democrats moved and more
willing to compromise and republicans were not willing to meet them halfway. the public moved with the president. the public overwhelmingly supports the type of grand bargain that he wants. difficult entitlement savings, revenue on high income americans. a grand bargain is seen as shared sacrifice. they also support doing? in a context starting with a strong jobs plan to make sure getting our economy going. the public is their and my hope is that the people in washington will start to hear those voices and that will start to open up the possibility for more bipartisanship in 2012. >> let's explore that quest for bipartisanship a little bit more. the latest example, the failure to get there, was the super committee that was supposed to come up with $1.20 trillion in further cuts to the deficit.
it failed to do that. a lot of republicans are saying that was a failure of presidential leadership. the president did not get directly involved in that process, did not try to guide it to a successful conclusion. on the campaign trail, republicans are blaming him for the failure. what is your response to the criticism? >> that criticism is purely a political one. there is no factual foundation to that. it was the president to brought together both parties, both houses, in the biden negotiations. he asked his vice-president to lead a bipartisan negotiations to get a budget agreement. after that, the president got involved and negotiated directly with john boehner. he tried to negotiate with us in good faith, but he was unable to deliver the votes and support from his party necessary for a compromise.
congress decided after that that they wanted to try it themselves and they called for a super committee, where democrats and republicans would work on their own. the present respected that any -- the president respected that and he sent a proposal with over three trillion dollars of additional proposals. here is how you can get it down and your archive said i am willing to say i am for that will make it easier for both republicans and democrats to support them. as the super committee went on, members of the committee, both democrats and republicans, repeatedly said, let us try to do this. the white house should not get involved. they have rules of confidentiality were they were very tight about even telling us what was going on. canal said the end of the day,
when it failed again for the same reasons things failed over the summer, to go suggested that the president's fault is an understandable political line for people on the campaign trail. it is not an accurate record of what happened. >> doesn't leave you with any hope for progress -- does it leave you with any hope for progress for next year? given the super committee experience and the charged political atmosphere, is there any hope for next year? >> there is always hope. we were talking history. in 1995, it turned out to have more bipartisanship and there were a couple of major pieces of legislation. the public is speaking, they are saying they want compromise,
they want deficit reduction that includes revenues and entitlements, they want strong job action. i would like to believe that as members of congress start hearing that at home, at town halls, it will start affecting the behavior back in washington. i think we will always be prepared to work together. i really wish we could put the policies -- the politics aside. it is hard to think of another time when the economy is coming back from the worst financial recession since the great depression. we still had 8.6% unemployment. bipartisan measures like infrastructure, but putting people back to work, creating jobs, are having trouble getting done when those are classic bipartisan measures. there is really no reason when you are a country like ours that has so-called deferred maintenance.
we have prepares to do in our schools. we have repairs to do in our bridges and our streets. we will have to pay those costs at some point. why not do it now? we have out of four construction workers dying for a job. this is the time we can help rebuild our country and give our economy some momentum and put some people is the process broken. >> i don't believe it is about the process. i think it's about people having the will to compromise. >> there has been compromised. it has been compromised. >> that is unfortunate, you cannot have a situation where you have two parties with a significant division and you ask one party to go all the way to the other.
you're just asking one side to capitulate. you have to have a marble compromise and you needed for a few reasons -- that is the way the numbers work. you can i get the kind of fiscal discipline we need if you don't include some revenues from those who can most afford it. about $500 billion per year of our problem with our deficit is due to the tax cuts in the last decade that were never paid for. revenue is part of the problem. so is entitlement costs, obviously, and the cost of health care. the other reason you have to do it together is the sense of social compact and shared sacrifice. you cannot go out and ask americans to ask americans to sacrifice hospitals, medicare recipients, farmers, you cannot say to them that you need to do some sacrifice for your country to help but come back from our worst financial recession in 80
years but those who are most fortunate, those who are most well off, don't have to contribute a dime. that is not a sense of shared sacrifice. i believe that when the public believes we are all in this together, you can get the type of political support you need. you also needed to be a bit of a hold hands and jump together. that means that democrats and republicans each made it difficult compromises to get it. they take positions they did not want to take but they justify it because the other side was willing to compromise as well. i hate to say it but until more of the republican party is willing to come to the center and negotiate in good faith and compromise on a high income revenues, it will be very hard for us to make the progress we need. i believe that is where the public across the board wants us to go. i believe eventually the people
they elect to serve them will follow their lead. >> you have said a couple of times that the democrats have moved toward compromise and they're now willing to put entitlements on the label and the problem is republicans are not. some say that is not entirely true because john boehner put revenue on the table briefly this summer and during the super committee negotiations, republicans had a proposal on the table that offered to raise revenues but in return they wanted tax reform that lower rates. democrats walked away from that because the issue is not just revenue. it has to be high-income revenues. it would be fair to say that for you now, republicans agree that tax revenues agree that must be part of the solution. they must further agree that revenues had to be raised on the
well-to-do rather than the middle class. >> i will always say this that i admire the speaker of the house for coming and working with us on good faith. he did put revenues on the table and i think he should be praised for doing so and working with us. the other fact is that he walked away, not just once, but twice from the agreement. that is when we were still willing to compromise and work together. he clearly could not marshal political support, rest of his party to work with us. while he personally made a good- faith effort, his party was not able to actually push for a significant revenue component that would have allowed us to have a grand deficit reduction bargain. i don't agree that the twomey proposal was any type of reasonable movement or offer. senator twomey said that maybe we can do $290 billion less than
the full extension of the tax cuts if we agree to make the tax code more tilted to the well off and raise taxes on middle-class. this was not just about that he did not want to raise taxes on the well off, he put forward a proposal that would have brought the top rate for the most well off, millionaires and billionaires, down to 28% and raise taxes on middle-class families. i don't think many democrats or republicans would end up supporting that bill once they saw the details. i cannot offer the same words about the proposal that i would over speaker john boehner's suggestion over the summer. he tried and could not deliver his own party. i don't know everything that happened in the super committee but that offer by senator twomey item that was a reasonable offer to but rabin is on the table that was designed
to get a bipartisan agreement. >> let's get back to where we started which is the payroll tax cut. you correctly said that for average questions that may be the most important questions. will that be extended or not? will you now be willing to consider different ways to pay for it besides the tax on millionaires? would you consider some ideas the republicans have put out like agriculture subsidy cuts and airport fees as a way to get from here to there and get that job done? >> i don't know exactly what their offer is. we are always willing to work together. i will not say the president will insist on one and only one way to pay for this. we will work together in good faith but it has to be something that is consistent with our values. it has to be something that we can compromise on and i don't
think we have seen that yet. i think people will have to recognize how important this is. we're talking about the fact that the economy showed some improvement with the job numbers on friday. let's remember that part of the reason we have been able to withstand some of the bad luck we have had, the higher gas prices, the effect from the tsunami on the supply chain, the fragility in europe -- much of the reason we were able to withstand that was that we took action in december and we gave the typical family's an extra $1,000 of tax relief and we gave businesses a 100% tax break if they invested. we did not do those things, our economy could be much worse shape. we have to work together and asked the republicans and hope they will work in good faith for what we hope is a more robust payroll tax cut as the president has proposed because we needed
for the economy as an insurance policy against future things that might go wrong but more hopefully to give our economy the type of momentum that we need to create the type of job creation that does not just hold on employment steady but starts to bring it down particularly for those who have been unemployed for far too long. >> the european problems, can they stay on the other side of the atlantic? >> the world is very interconnected so we have to hope that they act with force and decisiveness. they have a framework that can work but it requires a speed of implementation and it requires the appropriate firepower to give people confidence that we can handle the painful process they need their in dealing with their debt crisis. i think that is extremely important for europe but it is important for us as well because we know the world is
interconnected right now and almost everything that happens somewhere of fax other parts of the world. -- that the fax other parts of the world. whenever you are in a position, as we are in the white house or in congress, your first responsibility is to do the things you can't control and what we can control is that we can have a very strong jobs bill that puts more demand and more momentum in the economy and that will give more confidence to the u.s. economy and world wide. if something negative happens overseas, it offers a grid of a buffer against unforeseen events. i hope it will provide the momentum of getting this economy going and get more companies back into investing in our economy and hiring again. that is our hope and that is our fight. >> what worries you the most in the year ahead? what do you tell the president? >> what worries me the most?
there is no question i would worry that if we were unable to extend the payroll tax cut and not able to extend help for those unemployed -- as the other thing that has to get done before december. if we don't do that, by the end of february, 2 million americans who are out there every day looking for work will find themselves cut off for no other reason than the dysfunction and washington. that is not acceptable for those families and also unemployment insurance has always been one of the best thing to do for the economy because families are in distress and they will spend that money and that means more customers at stores and it means more hiring. i think that is another thing we should keep our eye on and it is imperative. i cannot imagine that congress wants to go home before christmas with 160 million americans and expecting a tax
increase and up to 5 million americans unemployed or read their unemployment turns will be cut off. that is not something the president believes should be feasible or something anybody would consider and that is why we will push every single day in congress to pass a strong and powerful payroll tax for businesses and people and extend unemployment jurors for those still out looking for jobs in a challenging economy for too many americans. >> gnen sperling is joining us from the briefing house of the white house, thank you for joining us. >> what did you learn? >> while he stayed very hard on the theme that the payroll tax that has to be passed the way it was presented and the unemployment insurance benefits, near the end, he said the president insists his plan is the only way to pay for it. that does not sound like somebody was ready to compromise. >> you wrote about california
and the contest -- and the congressional redistricting. is the process broken? >> it was asked what is different now from the 1990's and the clinton administration got things done with republicans. one of the reasons is congress is much more polarized because you have more and more members who come from districts that are drawn to specifically republican or democratic districts. the redistricting process is made safer for partisans. the way to get those seats is to be a partisan warrior and a way to keep those seats is to vote to the party line and speak to your base in your district. the california statistic is that in the last four elections in california which has 53 house seats, 53 elections * four, only one of those races in which one of those seasons change party hands. in every other case, the party
held onto the seats it had originally. that is a very partisan arrangement and locks people into their partisan channels and keeps them there and that is what i think we are seeing in congress now. >> if the president is reelected he will deal with at least one chamber of commerce that will be in republican hands. will anything change in 2012 or in 2013 if the president is reelected? >> you can take it either way. gene is saying what the lessons from the mid 1990's is that when the republican congress forced the shutdown of the government, that was a political victory for clinton. people came back to try to avoid that. both sides of learned a lesson about the price of deliberately induced dysfunction morality. you could say they may have learned a similar lesson from the debt debacle.
we actually have some movement. when mncconnell on monday and john banham said they're willing to move on taxes and unemployment serbs, it sounded like folks who were not willing to face the same budget dysfunction. >> we can be discouraged and we all are. it is possible to miss the fact that in some ways, big things have happened over the past year. there is now a big discussion underway about when to cut spending, not whether to cut spending. it is a messy process but that is progress. some things have happened but they're not happening with the ease and simplicity we all might like but that does not mean that things are not happening. >> thank you both for being with us on "newsmakers." [captioning performed by national captioning in